For months leading up the 2017 NFL Draft, I have put out countless stories advocating the need for the Ravens to draft a wide receiver, and why that need was of utmost importance. Now, after the Ravens have made all of their picks in this year’s Draft, that need went completely unaddressed.
According to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun, Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said at the Ravens press conference today, “Not taking a wide receiver, geez, we tried to put ourselves in a position to do that. It just didn’t work out.”
It’s not like the Ravens didn’t have their chances to take a wide receiver. Yes, in the first round the top three receivers surprisingly all went in the top 10, leaving the Ravens without one to take in the first round.
In round two, two wide receivers, Curtis Samuel and Zay Jones, went ahead of the Ravens. However, JuJu Smith-Schuster, a prospect who perfectly fit the Ravens, was on the board. I love the pick the Ravens did make with Tyus Bowser, but this goes to show a chance the Ravens missed to get a pass catcher. Smith-Schuster would be chosen by the Steelers later in round two.
In round three, ArDarius Stewart, a wide receiver that not only fit the Ravens well, but also went to Alabama, was on the board for both picks 74 and 78. Baltimore passed on him both times. That Ravens also passed on Chris Godwin, Amara Darboh, Chad Williams and Carlos Henderson. These receivers all went in round three.
Mack Hollins, a good fit for the Ravens in round four, went just ahead of Baltimore. When the Ravens picked Nico Siragusa in round four, they passed on Josh Malone, Ryan Switzer, Jehu Chesson, and Chad Hansen.
There was not as much wide receiver talent selected in round five, but every one that was taken was selected after the Ravens pick.
In round six, the Ravens final pick, the Ravens passed on Robert Davis, Malachi Dupre, Stacy Coley and Isaiah Ford.
The point I’m trying to make with all of that is that the Ravens had their chances to take a wide receiver, but they didn’t. The biggest question is simply: why?
The best answer for this is that the team is focussed on returning the defense to the glory days. That’s a really good plan, and the Ravens took a great step in doing that by loading up on defense in the first three rounds with really talented players.
However, a team can’t just have a good defense. Yes, the Ravens did win the Super Bowl with a great defense and a bad passing game, but that team had Jamal Lewis on it, and arguably the greatest defense of all time.
Yes, the Broncos did win the Super Bowl with a bad offense, but the 2015 Broncos defense was historically good, though not as good as the 2000 Ravens.
Right now, there is no way to know how good the Ravens defense really will be. The unit has been totally revamped, and I need to see them play together before being ready to anoint this defense as one with the potential to be historically good.
Another possible answer is that the Ravens are waiting for next year’s talented crop. The 2018 Draft has a lot of potential talent at the position, including Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Courtland Sutton and James Washington.
However, after exercising what looked to be a win-now mentality with offseason deals, why would the Ravens be willing to look ahead to next year’s draft already?
In the end, the whole wide receiver situation depends on Breshad Perriman. If he can develop and reach the projections set for him when he was drafted, then not taking a wide receiver in the 2017 Draft may become a non-issue. But for now, this is a very curious strategy by the Ravens front office staff.
I honestly am utterly shocked that the Ravens passed on a wide receiver for the whole draft, this seemed to me to be the biggest need that the team had. This draft will be a major point of contention throughout the season if the Ravens struggle on offense. Questions will fly about why the Ravens failed to be aggressive enough to move up for Corey Davis, Mike Williams or John Ross if that trio turns out to be as successful as projected. The wide receiver position will be in the spotlight for the Ravens for the foreseeable future. To say the least, it’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out.